Is it time to fire your BI team?

Is it time to fire your BI team?

There are many signs that your BI team isn’t performing. Perhaps your peers are constantly complaining about analytics or you don’t have the numbers you need to make decisions. Or your BI team may only be reacting to requests rather than delivering insights that add value and excite your business.



If this is happening in your business, then it’s a big problem that needs to be addressed quickly. But before you make any big decisions, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Do they have the tools they need?

While it’s easy to blame an analytics team, take a step back and make sure they have the right tools and access to the data they need to do their job. If they’re working with the bare bones and taking a lot of time to pull things together because of extraneous factors, that problem needs to be fixed first.

This shouldn’t be costly to address, there are enough toolsets available that will get your BI team up and running quickly at little cost. Your team should be able to research this and find the right tools to help them function effectively (although if they haven’t looked previously, that’s a problem in and of itself).

It’s also worth ensuring that your team has the skills that they need to deliver. A BI team needs a range of skills – they should be able to organize data, effectively analyze data and then tell stories with data. Those three skill sets are critical to a successful BI team. While you may be lucky enough to find those skills in one person, you may need three or more people to bring them together.


2. Do they understand the business?

If your BI team isn’t commercially-minded then they will never add value to your business and must be replaced. In the absence of commercial understanding and savvy, all they will ever do is deliver numbers, not insights.

A truly exceptional BI team is one that really adds value to the business – they don’t just react to it. They come to you with insights into what is happening in your business. While they may not fully understand the business implications of what they’ve found, they are proactive about understanding the business and working out what metrics are important. They help you find those nuggets of gold earlier rather than tripping over errors and finding mistakes later on.

Business leaders need to take some responsibility and coach their BI team to become exceptional. They need to ensure that their BI team understands the business and what it needs to be successful.

The divisional leader or CEO plays an important role in coaching the BI team. This requires spending time helping them understand the business you’re in. Don’t just ask for a new metric, explain the business purpose for the metric. It’s easy to say, “tell me what our numbers were last month?,” but if the BI team doesn’t understand the purpose of the question they can’t help you find more relevant information.

Instead, if you say, “hey, we’re trying to understand where our new business is coming from and this is one key metric that may help us.” That gives the BI team enough information to start looking for different insights. They might look at what new customers you’ve signed, what the customer’s profile is, where your revenue came from, what products it came from. This opens up the opportunity for them to ask more questions and think more broadly about the question “tell what our numbers were last month?”


3. Are you asking the right questions?

The hiring manager is also to blame if the BI team isn’t up to scratch. If you hire someone into an analytics role but only ask them about analytics, then you’ve done yourself a disservice.

Rather than focusing on their analytical skills, ask them how well they understood their last business. Spend some time exploring what they believe made that business successful. This will help you get to the heart of whether they are commercially minded or just a data monkey. You don’t want a data analyst who just punches out reports without thought, you want someone who can actually translate data into meaningful business outcomes.

So when should you fire your BI team? Step back, look at the team and determine if you’re getting the insights you need quickly enough for your business to be successful. If you’re not, and the team has all the tools they need and access to the right data, then something is fundamentally wrong. But before you hand them a pink slip, make sure they have the skills and understand the business.


If after that, they’re still just reacting and delivering the bare minimum, then it’s time to part ways. Your BI team must add value to your data and bring real insights to move your business forward.